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    Albany schools may face cuts this school year

    The Albany board of education plans to discuss how it might cut school spending in the current academic year when it meets Tuesday night.

    Among agenda items listed for the Board of Education’s January 20th meeting is “approve 2008-09 mid-year cuts.” This agenda item is listed for “review and discussion,” signaling that no votes or final decisions will be made.

    School board member Patricia Low said the board likely will aim to slice spending by 15 percent.

    Albany’s situation – whatever its specifics will be revealed to be – is a result of California’s huge budget deficit and proposals from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state legislature to cut billions from education as one means to shore it up.

    California faces a $41 billion deficit over the next 18 months. The governor and legislators have yet to agree on how to close that gap, but all proposals include cutting education.

    While California’s budget situation is very dire, this state already spends less on educating its students than almost any other state. California ranks 47th in spending per pupil – meaning all but three states spend more per student than California does. Some New England states spend twice what California does per student.

    Education funding in California is unique in other ways, too, in that school districts receive the majority of their funding from the state rather than from local authorities. In most states, public school education is paid for by local property taxes submitted to cities or school districts which in turn fund their schools. But in California, property taxes are funneled through the state and distributed through a complex formula.

    What’s in store for Albany schools is still not known. Albany Superintendent of Schools Marla Stephenson said she would shed some light on the situation after she presents suggestions to the school board.

    The board of education meets at the Albany Community Center at 1249 Marin Avenue. The open public session begins at 7:30 p.m. and again the meeting is Tuesday, January 20. The public is invited to comment early in the meeting.

    The meeting will be videocast on KALB Channel 33 and you can also click here to watch it online. as a webcast .

    By Barbara Grady-Ayer

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